Arkansas Derby

'Road to the Kentucky Derby' Begins This Saturday

Like every prolific sporting championship, the Kentucky Derby® is the culmination of months – even years – of preparation, determination and the heart-felt desire to win America’s greatest race for horses.  For many, the chance to compete in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and not making the cut means saying goodbye to a dream.

Just like the road to the Super Bowl, World Series and Final Four, teams of Thoroughbred horses, owners, trainers and jockeys must perform well in schedule of preparatory races – a playoff series – in order to earn a start in the “Run for the Roses.”  

The newly launched “Road to the Kentucky Derby” television series, produced in partnership by Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CDHN) and NBC Sports, will take viewers into the middle of this gutsy competition and show them the intense commitment made by both human beings and horses chasing the Kentucky Derby dream.

The three-part series, slated to run on consecutive Saturdays from March 27 through April 10, will provide live coverage of six Derby prep races, key competitions that contenders must win to earn a coveted spot in the Derby’s 20-horse starting gate.  The series will also give viewers at home a sense of the spectacle surrounding a day at the races, including snapshots of the fashion, food, famous faces and racing’s real “characters” – the fans – to draw viewers into the social scene that makes racetracks the ultimate source for entertainment.  
    
    “We are excited to partner with NBC Sports on this new approach to televised horse racing, which has helped us grow viewership for the Kentucky Derby telecast over the last three years,” said Bob Evans, president and chief executive officer of Churchill Downs Incorporated.  “Derby prep races are still the focal points of each telecast, and viewers will have the chance to invest themselves in the compelling storylines of Derby hopefuls as they earn a berth in America’s premier horse race. By blending traditional sports coverage with feature and lifestyle stories, we will offer entertainment programming that appeals to a broad audience, including women and younger viewers, while widely distributing live racing coverage for our core fans.”

    The broadcast schedule for the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series is as follows:

SATURDAY, MARCH 27 (USA Network, Fair Grounds, 5-6 p.m. ET):
Grade II, $750,000 Louisiana Derby, 1 1/8 miles, Fair Grounds
Grade II, $500,000 Lane’s End, 1 1/8 miles, Turfway Park

SATURDAY, APRIL 3 (NBC Sports, Santa Anita, 5-6 p.m. ET):
Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby, 1 1/8 miles, Santa Anita
Grade I, $750,000 Wood Memorial, 1 1/8 miles, Aqueduct

SATURDAY, APRIL 10 (NBC Sports, Keeneland, 5-6 p.m. ET):
Grade I, $1 million Arkansas Derby, 1 1/8 miles, Oaklawn Park
Grade I, $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass, 1 1/8 miles, Keeneland

    While viewers take in the action at home, fans at the track will have the chance to enjoy the “DreamBet” of a lifetime. Churchill Downs Incorporated will sponsor a special promotion at each of the broadcast host tracks for the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series, allowing on-track patrons to enter a drawing for the opportunity for a free $10,000 wager on the broadcast host track’s race. A winning fan will be drawn at random during the course of the racing program at each broadcast host track.  Churchill Downs will then place a $10,000 “win” wager on the horse the winning contestant at each host site selects in the following races:

·    Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots on March 27;
·    Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita Park on April 3; and
·    Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland Race Course on April 10.

    Viewers at home can watch to see if the contestant wins big as the race unfolds.  Churchill Downs Incorporated piloted a similar wagering concept during its three “Downs After Dark” night racing events in the summer of 2009 that proved extremely popular with fans of all ages and wagering experience levels.  For more information and to review official rules for each “DreamBet,” Sweepstakes visit www.KentuckyDerby.com/dreambet.

    Churchill Downs Incorporated, (“CDI”), headquartered in Louisville, Ky., owns and operates four world renowned Thoroughbred racing facilities: Arlington Park in Illinois, Calder Casino and Race Course in Florida, Churchill Downs Race Track in Kentucky and Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots in Louisiana.  CDI operates slot and gaming operations in Louisiana and Florida.  CDI tracks are host to North America’s most prestigious races, including the Arlington Million, the Kentucky Derby and the Kentucky Oaks, the Louisiana Derby and the Princess Rooney, along with hosting the Breeders’ Cup World Championships for a record seventh time on Nov. 5-6, 2010.  CDI also owns off-track betting facilities, TwinSpires.com and other advance-deposit wagering channels, television production, telecommunications and racing service companies such as BRIS and a 50-percent interest in the national cable and satellite network, HorseRacing TV, which supports CDI’s network of simulcasting and racing operations.  CDI’s Entertainment Group produces the HullabaLOU Music Festival at Churchill Downs Racetrack which premieres on July 23-25, 2010.  CDI trades on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol CHDN and can be found at www.churchilldownsincorporated.com.

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Churchill Downs Teams With PRIME Lounge to Host 'Road to the Kentucky Derby' Viewing Parties

Churchill Downs has partnered with PRIME Lounge, one of Louisville’s newest and upscale nightclubs, to host a trio of viewing parties for NBC Sports’ upcoming broadcasts of the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series.

The first of three consecutive one-hour “Road to the Kentucky Derby” telecasts will air Saturday, March 27 on NBC Universal’s USA Network from 5-6 p.m. ET. The broadcast will showcase the Grade II, $750,000 Louisiana Derby from Fair Grounds Race Course and Slots in New Orleans and the Grade II, $500,000 Lane’s End from Turfway Park in Florence, Ky.

Churchill Downs’ “Derby Nation Road to the Kentucky Derby Viewing Parties” at PRIME Lounge, located at 104 West Main Street in the heart of Louisville’s downtown gallery district, will begin when doors open at 4 p.m. Guests age 21 and older will be admitted free of charge (no cover) and can enjoy $3 personal pizzas, 35-cent wings and a plethora of drink specials while watching the exciting Kentucky Derby prep races in an enjoyable party atmosphere. There also will be prize giveaways.

In January it was announced that Churchill Downs Incorporated reached a deal to partner with NBC Sports and present three broadcasts in the weeks leading up to the 136th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands on Saturday, May 1.

Each broadcast will feature major Kentucky Derby prep races and handicapping segments along with lifestyle and entertainment segments designed to appeal to a broader audience and drive viewership of the Kentucky Oaks, Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown telecasts. 

The 2009 Kentucky Derby on NBC Sports was the most viewed Derby telecast in two decades with more than 16.3 million viewers, good for 7.3 Nielsen rating with an 18 share and a 2.1 million jump in total viewership from 2008.

Following the “Road to the Derby” series launch on USA Network, broadcasts will shift to NBC for the Santa Anita Derby and Wood Memorial on April 3 and the Blue Grass Stakes and Arkansas Derby on April 10.

Restricted to 3-year-old Thoroughbreds, horses have only one chance to win the prestigious Kentucky Derby, and it’s quite an accomplishment just to receive a berth in the starting gate. More than 30,000 Thoroughbreds are foaled in North America each year, but only 20 are allowed to enter “The Run for the Roses” based on earnings accumulated in graded stakes races that comprise the “Road to the Kentucky Derby.”

With limited opportunities remaining and coveted graded stakes money on the line, serious Kentucky Derby contenders are likely to make their final start in advance of the Derby in one of the six 1 1/8-mile races to be televised on NBC Sports, which serve as a “playoff” series for entry into the Derby race itself. The outcome of each prep race will impact and help shape the Kentucky Derby field.

The “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series at a glance:

SATURDAY, MARCH 27 (USA Network, Fair Grounds, 5-6 p.m. ET):
·    Grade II, $750,000 Louisiana Derby, 1 1/8 miles, Fair Grounds
·    Grade II, $500,000 Lane’s End, 1 1/8 miles, Turfway Park

SATURDAY, APRIL 3 (NBC Sports, Santa Anita, 5-6 p.m. ET):
·    Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby, 1 1/8 miles, Santa Anita
·    Grade I, $750,000 Wood Memorial, 1 1/8 miles, Aqueduct

SATURDAY, APRIL 10 (NBC Sports, Keeneland, 5-6 p.m. ET):
·    Grade I, $1 million Arkansas Derby, 1 1/8 miles, Oaklawn Park
·    Grade I, $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass, 1 1/8 miles, Keeneland

About Churchill Downs Incorporated
Churchill Downs Incorporated, (“CDI”), headquartered in Louisville, Ky., owns and operates four world renowned Thoroughbred racing facilities: Arlington Park in Illinois, Calder Casino and Race Course in Florida, Churchill Downs Race Track in Kentucky and Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots in Louisiana.  CDI operates slot and gaming operations in Louisiana and Florida.  CDI tracks are host to North America’s most prestigious races, including the Arlington Million, the Kentucky Derby and the Kentucky Oaks, the Louisiana Derby and the Princess Rooney, along with hosting the Breeders’ Cup World Championships for a record seventh time on Nov. 5-6, 2010.  CDI also owns off-track betting facilities, TwinSpires.com and other advance-deposit wagering channels, television production, telecommunications and racing service companies such as BRIS and a 50-percent interest in the national cable and satellite network, HorseRacing TV, which supports CDI’s network of simulcasting and racing operations.  CDI’s Entertainment Group produces the HullabaLOU Music Festival at Churchill Downs Racetrack which premieres on July 23-25, 2010.  CDI trades on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol CHDN and can be found at www.churchilldownsincorporated.com.

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Churchill Downs, NBC Sports Partner for 'Road to the Kentucky Derby' Series

Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CHDN) and NBC Sports have announced a partnership to present three broadcasts featuring six Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown prep races this spring leading up to the 136th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands on NBC Sports on Saturday, May 1. The three one-hour broadcasts, two on NBC and one on USA Network, will include the Louisiana Derby, Lane’s End Stakes, Santa Anita Derby, Wood Memorial, Toyota Blue Grass Stakes and Arkansas Derby. The announcement was made Jan. 11 by Bob Evans, President and CEO, Churchill Downs Incorporated and Ken Schanzer, President, NBC Sports.
    
The shared vision of Churchill Downs and NBC Sports’ successful “Big Event Strategy” led to the 2009 Kentucky Derby being the most viewed Derby in two decades with a more than 26% increase in viewers since the strategy was launched in 2007. Each of the three, one-hour “Road to the Kentucky Derby” broadcasts will feature stakes races and handicapping segments in addition to lifestyle elements designed to broaden the audience for these races and to drive viewership of the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown.  

“This approach has been effective in bringing new fans to racing, and we hope to see similar success with the ‘Road to the Kentucky Derby‘ series,” Evans said. “The key difference is that we promote racing to both men and women by focusing on the fan’s entire experience of racing, not just the race itself. This includes food, fashion and celebrity.”

“We value the relationship we have with Churchill Downs immensely,” Schanzer said. “Adding the broadcasts of these important Derby prep races allows us to introduce key storylines that continue to build the broadest possible audience for the Kentucky Derby and the sport of Thoroughbred racing.”

ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY:

SATURDAY, MARCH 27, USA Network – Louisiana Derby – Broadcast from Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans, La. Coverage will also include the Lane’s End Stakes from Turfway Park in Florence, Ky.

SATURDAY, APRIL 3, NBC Sports – Santa Anita Derby – Broadcast hosted from Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif. Coverage will also include the Wood Memorial from Aqueduct Race Track in Jamaica, N.Y.

SATURDAY, APRIL 10, NBC Sports – Toyota Blue Grass Stakes – Broadcast hosted from Keeneland in Lexington Ky. Coverage will also include the Arkansas Derby from Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark.

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Kentucky Derby 135 Update - Papa Clem Wins, Old Fashioned Injured

Bo Hirsch's Papa Clem proved again that California-based 3-year-olds are at home anywhere in the country when he rallied from fifth and wore down Fox Hill Farm's favored Old Fashioned to win Saturday's 73rd running of the $1 million Arkansas Derby (Grade II) before a crowd of 55,193 at Oaklawn Park.

With the victory, Papa Clem punched his ticket to the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) at Churchill Downs on May 2.  Jockey Rafael Bejarano was aboard the winner for trainer Gary Stute, and Papa Clem covered 1 1/8-miles in 1:49 over a "fast" track.  Summer Bird finished third and Rebel (GIII) winner Win Willy was fourth.

It appeared immediately after the race that both Papa Clem and Old Fashioned would head to Louisville for the Kentucky Derby, but plans for the latter changed later when the son of Unbridled's Song was lame as he cooled out after the race.  The onetime Kentucky Derby favorite was found to have suffered a non-displaced slab-fracture of the right knee.

Trainer Larry Jones said the injury would require surgery and is not considered life-threatening, but Old Fashioned's racing career appears to be over.

"He's going back with our horses to Kentucky and we'll look to have him surgically treated once we get there," Jones said.  "Horses with that kind of injury sometimes come back, but rarely at the level at which he competed."

Jones, the trainer of the last two runners-up in the Kentucky Derby in Hard Spun and the ill-fated Eight Belles, still has a Kentucky Derby contender in his barn in Vinery and Fox Hill's Louisiana Derby (GII) winner Friesan Fire.  He said Old Fashioned was scheduled to be taken to Lexington's Rood and Riddle equine hospital for further examination and surgery.

Meanwhile, Stute - the son of veteran California trainer Mel Stute - is making plans for his first Kentucky Derby starter.  Stute's father won the 1986 Preakness (GI) with Snow Chief.

"Up until today, the Preakness was the happiest day of my life," Stute said.  "He (Papa Clem) just doesn't want to get beat.  He has a ton of heart."

Papa Clem, who is scheduled to travel to Churchill Downs on Tuesday, had finished second in his two previous starts to Friesan Fire in the Louisiana Derby and Pioneerof the Nile in Santa Anita's Robert B. Lewis (GII).

Trainer Tim Ice said third-place finisher would not be pointed to the Kentucky Derby, and would likely be pointed toward the Lone Star Derby (GIII) and Belmont Stakes (GI).

Trainer Mac Robertson said a Derby bid was "possible" for Win Willy.

"We'll see in about a week how he's doing and how the rest are doing," Robertson told Daily Racing Form.

KENTUCKY/GENERAL QUARTERS SURPRISES IN TOYOTA BLUE GRASS - Owner-trainer Tom McCarthy has trained horses off and on for most of his life, but never has the 72-year-old former school teacher and high school principal enjoyed a moment like Saturday's victory by 14-1 shot General Quarters in the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass (GI) at Keeneland.

McCarthy had claimed the son of Sky Mesa out of his career debut last May at Churchill Downs for $20,000.  General Quarters earned $465,000 for his first-place finish in the Blue Grass, in which he defeated favorite and runner-up Hold Me Back by 1 ½ lengths under jockey Eibar Coa.  Massone, the only 3-year-old in the field of 11 not nominated to the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown, was third, and Terrain closed to be fourth.

"I can't tell you what was going through my mind," said McCarthy. "I don't think there's a word that describes it.  I felt a sense of euphoria, a sense of well-being.  It's hard to describe.  It's a feeling I've never had in my life."

McCarthy had been a principal at three Louisville area high schools, but always dabbled with horses.  He has won a relative handful of races, none of which possessed anything close to the prestige and value of the Blue Grass.

The victory by General Quarters improved his career record to 3-3-1 in 11 races and pushed his lifetime earnings to $641,735.

Hall of Fame Trainer Bill Mott said runner-up Hold Me Back would go on to the Kentucky Derby, while trainer Al Stall Jr. said no decision had been made on Terrain's Derby status.

Previously unbeaten Charitable Man finished seventh in the race, one spot ahead of British-based Mafaaz, the winner of the Kentucky Derby Challenge Stakes who already has a guaranteed spot in the Churchill Downs starting gate on Derby Day.  Trainer John Gosden said after the race that he was unsure of the colt's status for a Kentucky Derby bid.

Square Eddie To Return in Coolmore Lexington - J. Paul Reddam's Square Eddie, runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (GI) and winner of Keeneland's Lane's End Breeders' Futurity (GI), is set to return to the Lexington track and the Kentucky Derby trail with a run in next Saturday's $300,000 Coolmore Lexington (GII).

Square Eddie worked six furlongs in 1:12.20 on Saturday over the synthetic surface at Hollywood Park and is scheduled to ship to Kentucky on Tuesday.  He has been away from competition since January because of a cannon bone injury.

Godolphin Horses Clear Quarantine - Two Kentucky Derby contenders for Dubai-based Godolphin - Desert Party and Regal Ransom - cleared quarantine at Churchill Downs on Saturday and moved into Barn 41, where they will continue to train toward the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby.

The colts are the first Godolphin horses to attempt the Derby since 2002.

CALIFORNIA/SMITH GETS TEST DRIVE ON CHOCOLATE CANDY - Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Mike Smith had a "get acquainted" session on Sunday with Chocolate Candy, the runner-up in the Santa Anita Derby (GI) who will be his ride in this year's renewal of the "Run for the Roses" on May 2 at Churchill Downs.

Smith was in the saddle as Jenny Craig's homebred son of Candy Ride worked five furlongs in :59.20 over the Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita.  Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said Chocolate Candy would travel to Kentucky on Tuesday and work twice at Churchill Downs.

Kentucky Derby 135 Update - Rematch for Old Fashioned, Win Willy in Arkansas

Fox Hill Farm’s Old Fashioned, a near-consensus early favorite for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) a month ago, is the morning line favorite to win a rematch with Win Willy, the horse that knocked him from the role of Derby favorite, when the two meet in Saturday’s $1 million Arkansas Derby (GII) at Oaklawn Park.

The Larry Jones-trained Old Fashioned is the 9-5 morning line choice in a field of 10 horses entered in the 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Derby prep.  The son of Unbridled’s Song will attempt to avenge the only loss of his career as he takes on Jer-Mar Stable’s Win Willy, the 56-1 upset winner over Old Fashioned in the Rebel Stakes (GIII) at Oaklawn on March 14.    The Mac Robertson-trained son of 2001 Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos is unbeaten in three races on dirt and is the 7-2 second choice in the Arkansas Derby.

Jockey Cliff Berry was aboard for the Rebel and gets the return call in the Arkansas Derby for Robertson, the 34-year-old son of veteran Chicago-based trainer Hugh Robertson. 

Old Fashioned will have a new partner in the saddle as Terry Thompson replaces New York-based Ramon Dominguez in what Jones described as a one-race deal for the Arkansas Derby.

"Terry knows the track," Jones said.  "He knows when he needs to be in, when he needs to be out. He kind of knows where the groove is. We're expecting him to find that trip to make it play for us."

Another interesting contender is Bo Hirsh’s Papa Clem, who launched his career on the synthetic tracks in California and comes into the Arkansas Derby off a solid effort in his debut on conventional dirt when he raced over a “sloppy” surface in the Louisiana Derby (GII) at Fair Grounds.  Jockey Rafael Bejarano will ride 3-year-old son of Smart Strike.

Others in the field include Lane’s End (GII) runner-up Flying Private, Captain Cherokee, Flat Out, Poltergeist, Ziegfeld, Danger to Society and Summer Bird.

The Arkansas Derby will be telecast live on ESPN from 6-7 p.m. (all times EDT).

KENTUCKY/HOLD ME BACK, UNBEATEN CHARITABLE MAN HEAD TOYOTA BLUE GRASS – Saturday’s $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass (GI) at Keeneland does not have a major marquee name in its field of 11 3-year-olds, but the race is filled with interesting horses that could thrust themselves into the Kentucky Derby picture with big efforts.

The 3-1 morning line favorite is WinStar Farm LLC’s late-developing Hold Me Back, who returned from a long layoff to score an emphatic victory in the Lane’s End Stakes over the Polytrack surface at Turfway Park.  The Bill Mott-trained son of Giant’s Causeway drew post 10 for the 85th running of the Blue Grass, which is also run over Polytrack.

“His race in the Lane’s End was extremely impressive,” said Elliott Walden, vice president of WinStar Farm.  “That had been our focal point and he ran a super race.  Our goal all along was the Lane’s End and the Blue Grass.”

Hold Me Back is unbeaten in three starts over synthetic surfaces and will be ridden again by three-time Kentucky Derby winner Kent Desormeaux.

Close behind at morning line odds of 7-2 is Theregoesjojo, third to Quality Road and Dunkirk in the recent Florida Derby (GI) and the only horse to a hold a win over the former.  Kentucky Derby winner Calvin Borel will ride the Ken McPeek trainee from post three.

Mr. and Mrs. William Warren’s Charitable Man is unbeaten in two races, but the most recent of those was a win in the Belmont Futurity (GI) in September.  Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin’s colt was sidelined by a saucer fracture in a shin last fall, but has trained well for his return to racing in the Blue Grass.  The 4-1 shot will be ridden by Alan Garcia.

While Hold Me Back, Theregoesjojo and Charitable Man are trying to prove that they belong in Kentucky Derby 135, Mafaaz is already guaranteed a spot in the starting gate on May 2 at Churchill Downs.  The British-based colt won the first Kentucky Derby Challenge Stakes at Kempton Park in March, which guaranteed his starting spot in the “Run for the Roses."

Richard Hills was aboard Mafaaz at Kempton and will be aboard the colt on Saturday.

Others in the very balanced field in the Toyota Blue Grass include Lecomte (GIII) runner-up Patena; Sam F. Davis (GIII) winner General Quarters; Terrain, third in the Louisiana Derby (GII), Rushaway winner Cliffy’s Future; Tampa Bay Derby (GIII) runner-up  Join in the Dance; Loch Dubh; and Massone.

The Toyota Blue Grass will be televised via tape delay during the ESPN telecast of the Arkansas Derby.

I Want Revenge, Godolphin Horses Arrive at Churchill – Wood Memorial (GI) winner I Want Revenge has settled in at Churchill Downs following his arrival at the track early Tuesday morning following a van ride from New York.

Godolphin’s double-barrelled Derby threats Regal Ransom and Desert Party, the 1-2 finishers in the $2 million UAE Derby, arrived at the Louisville track late Thursday afternoon.  The two colts were scheduled to spent 24-48 hours in quarantine after their trip from Dubai.

EAST/QUALITY ROAD HAS QUARTER CRACK, BUT INJURY RESPONDING WELL – There was something close to a collective gasp early in the week from admirers of Florida Derby and Fountain of Youth (GII) winner Quality Road when trainer Jimmy Jerkens revealed the colt was being treated for a quarter crack.

That foot ailment plagued 2008 Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown and foot specialist Ian McKinlay, who had treated Big Brown, was called in to patch the colt’s injured foot.  Quality Road returned to the track for a gallop on Wednesday and Jerkens liked what he saw.

“You always have to be guarded, but the patch went on there good, he galloped great and came back good,” said Jerkens.  “These things can be a little tricky, but Ian is really confident about it, which is good.”

Quality Road was scheduled to work on Friday or Saturday, depending on weather.